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A Place Without You

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Donggu has been a bit uncertain at taking this job at first, but the 2 days 1 night crew has been nothing but welcoming to him. There’re times when the casts are having too much fun messing with him, but Donggu understands that it’s what expected when there’re new members. The show itself was something else, it’s so many things that he’s not expected. He opened himself to his insecurities, he opened himself up as a person, and most important of all, he’s genuinely having fun.

In front of the cameras, the casts acted like bullies, but when they stopped rolling they acted as mentors.

They took him out to bbq and beers the first day he joined to celebrate him joining the crew. Then they continue to invite him, gradually getting closer to each of them.

One day, he was invited out. Strangely it was not from the group chat. A direct message from Joonyoung saying, ‘Hyung, wanna go out?’

With no schedule and having a soft spot for Joonyoung, of course, he agrees.

At the agreed time and odd place, Donggu arrived a bit tidier. Donggu knew his friends. Whenever they go out, they dressed like your local middle-aged dad. Joonyoung didn’t say a dress code, but the place they agreed on was fancy and high-class.

When he arrived at the second floor, the open roof area. There was no one there yet, but Joonyoung, dressing to the nines. For once his hair didn’t look oily and haven’t been washed in days. He’s wearing something else than a shirt and jeans, he’s wearing a friggin suit.

Joonyoung looks fly as hell, uncharacteristically fly as hell.

“Ooooh, this place is nice.” Donggu whistled and look around the place, the second floor got views over the city since it's placed in high land. There’re fairy lights too above them.

“Where’s everyone else? Not here yet?” Donggu asked, and Joonyoung just looks away.

“They’re not coming.” Joonyoung flatly informed.

Donggu blinked, confused. Until he sees the table, it’s only for two people. There’s no one else on the second floor, and almost no one on the first floor he just passed by. The way Joonyoung’s eyes nervously looks away going back and forth.

A realization hits Donggu like a ton of bricks.

“Jo-Joonyoung, is this a date?” Donggu almost screeched, his heart is pounding, he didn’t even know why. This is just so bizarre.

“I told you yesterday if you wanna go out with me, ugh, be assertive Donggu.” Joonyoung spat, folding his arms. As bitter as his words are, Joonyoung is visibly nervous. Donggu only gets to see him like this when they’re about to fight their life for dinner.

“I... Wow... You... I-uh... Um...” Now Donggu just isn’t making sense at all. There’re no words in his head, just.... how is he supposed to feel towards this? There’re so many questions... How the heck the player self-acclaimed rocked is suddenly asking him out on a date??

“I di-didn’t know you swing that way.” Donggu blurt out.

“Sometimes I do, when the guy is right.” Joonyoung honest reply didn’t help the racing beats inside Donggu’s poor ribs, trying to keep his heart from bursting out. Joonyoung is basically saying Donggu is special, and Donggu.... oddly didn’t feel too bad about that.

“Is there a problem with me liking boys?” Joonyoung spat, even more bitter this time, eyes sharp with judgment.

“No-no!” Donggu stuttered, “I didn’t have a prejudice against that... it’s just different... and um...” and taboo.

Donggu didn’t have a problem with gay people, or men dressing as women or the opposite as well. They’re people, variety exists, and Donggu just doesn’t have any opinion on them, he never thinks he had any right to have any kind of opinion about them. They are them, and he is Donggu, that’s it.

But it’s different now that one of those people is from his circle of friends... and asking him out. Suddenly one of those people are affecting his life and.... he didn’t know what to think about that. He would definitely be frowned upon.

Yet despite that, Joonyoung is still here. Joonyoung who cares about his image so much, doing something so taboo and frowned upon. If leaked then his image would go downhill. But he’s still here, asking Donggu on a date, because ‘the guy is right’. There’s something oddly charming about that, and admirable, Donggu admits that.

Joonyoung sighed after the long silence. “Look man, if you don’t wanna--”

“No, it’s okay,” Donggu reassured.

He was surprised himself at how calm his voice is, and how accepting he found himself. Donggu kinda panicked a little, hoped it didn’t show on his face, he really didn’t know what he’s doing. He’s just, a bit curious. The cold and bratty Joonyoung, asking him on a date, he wanted to know more about him.

Joonyoung’s eyes went wide, “you sure?”

“Yeah, let’s eat, I’m hungry.” Donggu sat, and Joonyoung follows. “I’m impressed though, you booked the whole floor?”

“And plan the course meal, and the trip, I went all out when you agreed, I thought you knew that this is a date.” Joonyoung sighed exasperatedly, but it was playful, classic Joonyoung.

Donggu chuckled nervously, “How could I know this is a date?? I just assume we’re hanging out with the others, and no one... I mean no guy had ever asked me out on a date before.”

Joonyoung scoffed, “You would’ve been asked out a lot if most guys aren’t cowards.”

“And you’re not huh? Not afraid that it’ll ruin your image?” Donggu leaned forward, intrigued.

“Of course I’m afraid, but I’m more scared if I didn’t try.” Joonyoung looked away, pouting.

“Aww, you like me that much huh?” Donggu smiled, feeling the heat on his cheeks. It’s refreshing to see Joonyoung flushed and embarrassed like this.

“I’m just saying you’re hot.” Joonyoung grumbles, clearly lying.... partially. Donggu knew he’s hot, he just didn’t know Joonyoung finds him hot too, which is... good to know.

“Suuuure.” Donggu cheekily grins at his younger subordinate.

Why isn’t he feeling shame at being hit on by guy? Don’t know. People he sees on TV always went berserk, angry, damned them to hell if they’re being hit on by the same gender, which Donggu think a tad bit too exaggerating. Though he knew it’s not normal, Donggu can’t help but enjoy this. The date, the compliments, and hearing Joonyoung’s honest feelings. A compliment is a compliment after all, and Donggu feels good hearing them, especially coming from someone like Joonyoung.

Donggu blinks when he remembered what Joonyoung said a few moments ago.

“Wait, a trip? There’s a trip?” Donggu asked.

Joonyoung slyly smirked, that trademarked playful smirk.

“You didn’t think we’re just going to eat dinner, did you? I told you, I went all out. There’s a whole plan ahead of us, so prepare yourself.”

Ouf, his poor heart is not gonna survive tonight.

 

 

++++++

 

 

Donggu survived. Surprisingly. It was probably one of the best dates he has ever been to, and a refreshing point of view. Donggu is usually the one asking someone on a date and planning, but being treated like that time was refreshing, and he feels good. So when Joonyoung asked him on another date, and another more, Donggu agreed.

He felt comfortable around Joonyoung. Bumping shoulders, and touching skin, he didn’t feel disgusted. It became natural the more they went out on a date.

Then, in a date on a garden just the two of them, Joonyoung keep brushing against his hand, and Donggu decided to be bold and hold his hand.

Joonyoung immediately stopped them from walking. They lock eyes on each other, the uncertainty in both of them are in clear view, as well as the fear. Yet none of them let go of their hands. It felt like the world is spinning, and his chest felt so tight it’s hard to breathe, but Donggu wouldn’t let go of this hand, he just can’t. He wants Joonyoung here, with him.

“Donggu, I want you to think about it some more.”

The older man blinks, he didn’t expect Joonyoung to say that. He thought he would be happy, and grin those playfully cocky smile, and maybe he would... Donggu shook his head.

“W-Why?” Donggu stutter, but he’s blaming the cold air for that.

“Because it’s a big deal,” as obvious that is, Joonyoung surprisingly didn’t mock Donggu for asking why, “both of us are reality stars, we’re going to hide this forever. And I’m a guy, there’re many things way different in having a relationship with a guy. Many different aspects.” Joonyoung hinted, and it made all the blood rushed to Donggu’s face.

He had known about that and had thought about that as well before Donggu started to catch feelings. He had thought about it, and he’s still here, holding Joonyoung’s hand, thinking about kissing him.

“One wise man told me once, ‘when the guy is right’.” Donggu cheekily smiled, but Joonyoung just pressed his lips, tensed.

“It’s not just that anymore, this is more serious Donggu.” Joonyoung frowned, and Donggu knew he’s getting the wrong idea.

“I know.” Donggu squeezed the hand in his, making Joonyoung looks at him in the eye again, “I know Joonyoung.” He reassured, words filled and said with his soul as his eyes don’t waver from Joonyoung’s bewildered one. Donggu hoped that’s enough, hoped that Joonyoung knew.

“I... honestly didn’t think I’d get this far.” Joonyoung giggled at himself.

“What were you expecting?” Donggu raised an eyebrow, still smiling.

“Nothing, I was gonna enjoy whatever this is until you realized that you want out.” Joonyoung bitterly smiled.

“Well, I want in, be grateful.” Donggu raised his head, and Joonyoung just bowed.

“Yes, your majesty.” And he smiled with his trademarked wicked snicker.

“So, wanna get out of here?” Donggu cheekily asked.

Joonyoung comically gasped, “Donggu! How bold!”

“I di-didn’t mean that!” Donggu stutter, face ultimately red, now he’s letting go of Joonyoung’s hand, but he’s the one not being let go. “I just! It’s just...” It’s too public here to do things, not that he wanted to do things, it’s just things! Just..... ARGH.

“Chill Donggu! We’re taking it slow, okay?” Joonyoung giggled, holding Donggu by the shoulders. “Maybe start with a kiss?” He offered instead.

Donggu shyly nods.

“Okay,” he said, but both of them know they can’t do it here.

They’re going to hide forever. Donggu is getting into a wildly different territory, being with a man, but being a celebrity, hidden relationship isn’t new. He can do this, it’ll be okay.

 

 

+++++++++

 

 

Days with Joonyoung has always been fun. Cool dates, chilling together on weekends, and playful banters. The fights never lasted long since they fight about petty things, and Joonyoung would always apologize first, as surprising as that sounds.

It felt like this is the happiest Donggu has been in a while.

He was having a career slump before he joined 2 days 1 night. Donggu is jumping into a leap of faith as he joined this variety show, and slowly building his confidence and take in acting jobs. He finally came out of his shell, out of his security blanket and his dark thoughts. Jumping into life again, finally doing things he loves, having fun and being blissfully happy in a relationship. Everything isn’t all perfect, it’s in progress, but Donggu is happy.

One of the members knew, though. No one would expect that it was Jongmin to see them through. They didn’t say anything, Jongmin didn’t catch them doing anything but talking to each other on set. Maybe it’s the way they looked at each other, Jongmin just pointed at the both of them and gasped. It was confusing for Donggu and Joonyoung, but then they got a following text from Jongmin saying he won't tell anyone.

It made Jongmin got closer to Donggu though. It felt like Donggu could open up to Jongmin. The goofy man himself isn’t as dumb as he showed himself on tv, it was surprising yet again. Who knew that Jongmin has had these thoughts before too? And they become really close best friends, more than the others.

Donggu is adored by friends, respected by coworkers, and loved by Joonyoung. Though Joonyoung himself isn’t perfect, Donggu also isn’t. By the nature of time, they opened up about each other, baring their souls. He would always remember how raw Joonyoung’s feeling was as it was spilled when they met after Joonyoung got back from Europe because of the ex-girlfriend scandal. Donggu had made mistakes too. They better themselves, growing with each other’s side. It was okay, things were okay

Now?

Donggu doesn’t know anymore.

Donggu was on set when the news break.

His boyfriend’s face on the news. Donggu kept reading the headlines over and over again, making sure it’s real. Staffs were there, the main stars as well. They are all in the set with Donggu as the news hits. Strangely, the first feeling that hits him was not shame, but just disbelieve. He didn’t know what happens that the news would accuse him this way.

Donggu quickly pulls his phone up and call Joonyoung.

He didn’t pick up.

Donggu tried again, anxiously biting his lips.

A few people looking his way, seemingly curious as well when they saw Donggu on the phone.

He didn’t pick up.

The 2 days 1 night casts chatroom are exploding, he looks through it, and mostly it was Deffcon and Jongmin, only a few are Taehyun and Junho, but no Joonyoung at all since 3 days ago. Now that he thinks about it, Donggu hasn’t got a reply back since his chat 3 days ago too... Donggu had been busy with this drama.

Not long after, he felt a hand on his back, whispering encouraging words. People around him staring with pity, and the ones not staring is around him trying to make him feel better. Yet no one knew his real pain. He wouldn’t have cared if his career at 2 days 1 night plummet, he didn’t care whether or not there’s a possibility he can return once the scandal died down, he didn’t care if his friends can pull a few strings to make the rumor died down faster. His career is not the issue, he didn’t feel betrayed by a coworker, these people didn’t know the truth threatening behind Donggu’s throat.

That’s Joonyoung, that’s his boyfriend. Not a betraying co-worker or a celebrity pervert. It’s his boyfriend, there’s no way he would do this, there had to be a reason. Donggu knew Joonyoung like no one else could. That’s not Joonyoung’s doing, he must’ve been framed, it must’ve been in the past, it’s happening again. As Joonyoung said then, his past is catching up to him.

Donggu couldn’t imagine how Joonyoung must’ve felt right now. How long did the police hold him captive and Donggu didn’t know?

But now, all he can do is stood there, taking in the condolences and pitying glances.

The director of his current drama advised that Donggu took a break, but he heavily declined. Things will be fine. They got through one scandal together, what’s another one?

The went through the day with a hole in his heart.

He just wished Joonyoung would call him back soon.

Donggu wanted to be there for Joonyoung this time.

 

 

+++++++++

 

 

Donggu stood his ground even as he was called to the police station. He meets the casts and a few 2 days 1 night crew there on the waiting area, as well as Roy Kim, Joonyoung’s best friend that knew about them, and had been hanging out together too. They lock eyes for a few seconds, and he could see the pity from Roy Kim, this time for a correct reason.

It’s good that Joonyoung has his friends here to support him. He wanted to make the air light, trying to see the bright side. He wanted to say that they’re going to get this through too, but the gloom is so overpowered that Donggu couldn’t say a single word. Even Jongmin didn’t make eye contact with him.

One by one they were called into the interrogation room. Then it was Donggu’s turn.

He tried to be calm, being in a police station is getting on his nerves. But he can do this. For Joonyoung.

He was interrogated, there’re no shouting words. There’re two detectives there, but their faces are blurry. Donggu couldn’t remember their words before they showed him Joonyoung’s phone.

His eyes nailed to Joonyoung’s phone, the detectives shoved this on his face, asking about the chatroom. This is indeed Joonyoung’s phone, and inside were conversation he’d never imagined would be in there. The detectives scroll the chat up, but Donggu couldn’t hear what they’re saying. His eyes can’t tear away from the pictures and videos from Joonyoung’s chat balloon and gallery. How none of them had their picture together despite countlessly taking pictures together.

What’s worse is that the chat and pictures are taken recently. The day a video was taken of him and a woman, Donggu was with him earlier that day.

What does that mean? That Joonyoung would keep those pictures of women, but none of Donggu. That Joonyoung goes straight to these women even though he already had Donggu.

The room is spinning. His mouth malfunctioned. His mind went blank, but his lips could only reply with “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Felt like there's no air in his lungs, he’s suffocating. His vision blurred into darkness, he thought there’s going to be a blackout. There’re muffled screaming now. The face of the detectives staring him in the face, screaming something he couldn’t hear.

All the knew were the hard and painful pounding of his heart, cold sweat running through his skin and head buzzing before everything went dark.

 

 

++++++++++++

 

 

The first face he saw after he regained his conscious was the detective’s. Looks like the man just walks in at the right time. The room is white, smells like a hospital, but he’s wearing his clothes, not a hospital gown. The Detective’s face is as stoic as ever, the intensity of his sharp eyes could burn a hole of Donggu’s face.

“Wait why are you here? Where am I?” Donggu croaked, his throat felt dry.

“Police’s station's infirmary. You got a panic attack.” He stated.

The information from the interrogation room flooded back to his mind. Donggu didn’t know what to feel, he didn’t want to feel. He wanted to go home and just sleep, maybe then he’ll wake up from whatever this is.

“You didn’t actually give us information yet, do you think you can go back to interrogation?”

No, Donggu didn’t want to, he can’t.

“Yes, let’s just... get this over with.” Donggu had his eyes on the floor, bracing himself as he stood up. He’s done squats almost every morning, why do his legs feel like jelly.

“If you’re not up to it we can reschedule.”

“No.” Donggu cuts, “I’ll answer whatever you wanted to know, I’ll answer it all, but please leave me alone after this.” Donggu croaked again, where’s his voice?

“Drink.” The detective commanded as he shoved a glass of water from the stand to Donggu’s lap. Which he took and drank gratefully.

“You don’t have to worry,” The detective started again, this time Donggu finally look up to see the detective clearly. He seems like a middle-aged man, the graying hair and messy stubble contributed a lot in his aged look. He’s wearing a terribly worn maroon red leather Jacket with washed worn jeans and boots. He looks like the detective he’s seen in animes. Yes, he started watching anime because of.....

“Don’t worry about what?” Donggu questioned, not really caring.

“I deleted your pictures and chats with him, no one else knew but me, I won't out you.”

Now that, Donggu finally snapped from a haze. His senses sharpen at the bizarre words from this strange detective. There’re a lot of points in that sentence that raise many questions.

“Isn’t tampering with evidence is a crime?” Donggu whispered, in fear that anyone would hear. Dating Joonyoung has taught him that.

The detective only shrugged with a face in blissful apathy.

“The system already broken anyway, Joonyoung and Seungri are bribing my bosses right in this second, trying to ease their punishment. Now, it’s up to me to get those assholes go to jail with the right jail time determined by law. So, are you going to say the truth?” the detective simply stated, curt and firm, yet the words stab him deeply.

Donggu could physically feel the pain in his chest as the situation once again sinks in. What Joonyoung had done, his lying words, and how stupid Donggu is. That he was fooled... like a lovestruck teenager that wouldn’t know better. He’s ashamed. He wanted to cry, scream, and just go home.

He couldn’t now, not with this spiteful detective trying to get the truth out of him.

Donggu didn’t reply to the detective, he simply nods and walks to the interrogation room once again.

 

 

+++++++

 

 

He’s alone in his apartment, it’s been 24 hours since arrived home, and it’s been 24 hours he left his room. Still in the same shirt from yesterday. He didn’t eat, nor drink nor look at his phone. Thankfully he’s not needed on set tomorrow, but he would need to get back to work 2 days from now and Donggu didn’t know he could do that. His manager has been texting him frantically, but he already said on the way he went home that he won't be replying for a while.

With knees tucked to his chest and traces of tears on his face, he stayed there in his darkroom through the day. Now it’s dark again. Admittedly he’s hungry, his stomach hurts but he couldn’t get himself to eat. His mouth felt dry and his throat hurts, his eyes hurt, his chest hurts. Everything hurts.

But he’s been moping for a while now... his body feels sticky.

He didn’t know how he did it, but he’s on his bathtub, the water is warm, and it smelled like roses and lavender.

Staring into nothing, feeling like there’s a hole in his chest. He focused on the smell of his bath, focused on the warm water seeping through his tense muscles. Then his mind wanders to Joonyoung again, the bath bomb was a gift from Joonyoung, and they would take baths when he stays over. He wondered if Joonyoung didn’t actually feel comfortable then.

After what it felt like an hour, Donggu quits crying in the tub and brush his teeth. He throws away Joonyoung’s brush and facewash. After drying himself and getting his clothes, he stares at the drawer dedicated for Joonyoung’s clothes. He wanted to get food, and half of it are Joonyoung’s favorite beers. His pictures by the table, his things on the drawer, his pack of cigarettes.

His traces all over Donggu’s life. His memories lingers in the quiet space. This place that waits for him.

The Donggu’s on the floor, back on a kitchen counter, wailing to his palms.

He wondered if all these times they spent together was real or not. Was it only him that loves Joonyoung? Has it been a big complete joke from that jerk? Is Donggu is just as stupid as he thinks he is?

It felt like his world crumble once again.

Why? Was Donggu was not enough? Or Joonyoung has been lying and all of this is just a fleeting experiment? What’s Donggu’s worth all this time?

 

It’s morning.

Donggu blinks and realized he had slept on the kitchen floor and failed to cook himself a meal.

He needs to eat. He’s shooting tomorrow.

The bell rings, but Donggu ignores it completely as he browses his fridge. The options are salads because the greens are about to wilt if he didn’t eat them soon, but Donggu really wants something warm and soupy.

Then there’re hard bangs on his door, making him jump.

If there’s a reporter on the side of his door, I swear to God...

Donggu peeks, it’s Jongmin.

In one swift move Donggu opened the door, Jongmin came in, then the door is sealed shut and locked.

Jongmin looked awful. Bloodshot eyes, dull skin, oily hair. The face looked dumbstruck like his expression whenever he loses a challenge.

“You look bad Donggu-yah.”

“You too.”

Jongmin frowned, his eyes filled with tears, and Donggu pulled him into a hug. They wailed there by the front door for a while. Soon there’re quiet sniffs, and they finally pulled away.

“I brought food, Budae jjigae.”

Donggu looks down by Jongmins feet, there’re two big plastic bags that smell good.

“Thank you Jongmin.”

 

They sit by the sofa, for Donggu, he’s eating his first meal in a day and a half. Yet he still didn’t feel like eating. While they eat, to their dismay and self-destruction, they put on the news.

Once again, they’re covering the Burning Sun scandal. Donggu had all his attention on the documentary, only eating bit by bit. It was a big scandal, a lot of stars got dragged in. Some of them are Donggu’s friend, even Roy Kim got dragged. Does that mean Roy Kim had known all this time, yet didn’t bother to tell Donggu at all?

Then came another two familiar faces, Taehyun and Junho. This one came to a complete shock for both of them. They dropped their spoon, as the reporter explained what his two close’s friends had done. It was just gambling, yet it was still frowned upon. Donggu didn’t know at all. Though things like that are common in the celebrity world. Jongmin didn’t seem to be too surprised.

“Did you know about this?” Donggu questioned, Jongmin stare him back with fear, but the lack of judgment in Donggu’s tone and face made his friend relax.

“Yes, I know.” Jongmin guiltily confessed.

“What about Joonyoung? Did you know about him too?” This time Donggu’s voice cracked and Jongmin hesitates.

“I-I... I uh... It’s not that I’m... I... um uh...”

“Please.” Donggu begged, “Just tell me, did you know? Did they know too?”

Jongmin gulped, “Yeah.”

Donggu closed his eyes shut, flinching in pain as he leans away from Jongmin.

“Why did no one ever tell me? Roy, now you, why didn’t you tell me?” Donggu demanded an answer.

“I didn’t think he did it again!” Jongmin blurted, his body gone tense as his eyes franticallygo back and forth between the food and Donggu.

“We knew about what he was doing, but I saw you with him, and just thought maybe he changed! I-I really didn’t know he keeps doing it! And it’s not like he tells us that part of his life! Ho-Honest Donggu! If I had known he still does I Would’ve... would’ve scolded him, argh that brat.” Jongmin stuttered, raising his hand as if he would hit someone, boasting about himself. Just Jongmin being Jongmin even in these trying times. Maybe that’s why Donggu likes him. As dumb as he might seem, he’s always honest.

Donggu felt himself smile at Jongmin’s frantic antics.

“What now Jongmin?” Donggu sighed, “Are they going to terminate 2 days 1 night? So close to your 10 year anniversary too.”

This time, it’s Jongmin who had a grim expression, for a split second Donggu feels guilty.

“Things like that didn’t really matter, what I worry about are the people expecting it. A loyal audience that has followed the program for years. They’re the one more excited of the anniversary instead of me. What I wanted is my friends to get back together, but now... I don’t know what will happen to me... to us as a family.” Jongmin frowned, tears falling to his cheeks, sniffing as he rubbed his face.

“It made me think about Joohyuk... he must’ve felt so disappointed.”

And that made Donggu teared up too. Even though he didn’t get to know Joohyuk that well, he felt the pain his friend must’ve felt.

“Donggu.”

He looks up and hums.

“Can we invite Daejoon? He must’ve been crying too, that cry baby, he’s dealing with this alone.”

Donggu looks around, see the traces of Joonyoung here. Wondering if it’s alright that his other senior knew. Then Donggu decided to say fuck it and invite Daejoon to his place.

When Daejoon came with more food and face just as terrible as theirs. He had noticed the cigarettes, the beers, and the pictures. It didn’t take long for it to finally click. Daejoon only asked for how long, and that he’s sorry. The immediate acceptance and lack of judgment made Donggu felt better. Then Daejoon continues to trash his ex-boyfriend, bantering to Jongmin about it, and it was like a duet comedy. By the end of the day, Donggu is smiling again, though not for long.

Later at night, Taehyun declares that he’ll pull away from all his shows.

His friends stayed over that night. Donggu woke up feeling a little lighter, and ready to go back to work.

 

 

+++++++++++++

 

 

He got a call one late night before he’s going to bed. He didn’t recognize the number, but he picked up anyway. Donggu lets the person on the other line speak first before he could choose an appropriate reply.

“Donggu?”

His heart sank and the hoarse voice.

“Joonyoung?”

He felt himself vibrate. He wanted to hang up, he wanted to cry again, he wanted to shout. Yet he couldn’t do any of that, deep inside he misses this voice.

“Yeah, it’s me Donggu.” He said in a sweet tone, and the anger bubbles up again. Joonyoung has no right.

“What do you want?” Donggu spat.

He can hear Joonyoung gulped, “I... I’m sorry.” The voice filled with sorrow, genuine sorrow.

“Why? Why did you do that to me? If you didn’t love me anymore, why didn’t you just break up with me?” Donggu tried to sound firm, oh he tried and miserably fails.

“I do love you Donggu, I still do!”

“Then why did you cheat on me? Most of all... why did you do those things?” Donggu didn’t hold back his wails this time, anger mixed with sadness, he found himself falling apart yet again.

“A habit Donggu... Just a habit I can’t break. I know what I did is wrong, and I was selfish. I didn’t want to lose you and our small little world together. I love you Donggu,” the sincere whisper is crawling too close to his heart, Donggu didn’t like how much he wanted to hear it.

“And I know you won’t forgive me.”

“Then what do you want?” Donggu snapped.

It takes a few seconds for Joonyoung to finally say, “I just wanted you to know that I do love you. I didn’t pretend or think of you any less. I love you, I still do.” Joonyoung’s voice shakes in every word, he knew Joonyoung is crying.

Donggu covered his mouth, hiding his own shaky breath as tears pour heavily. It’s what he wanted to hear all this time. That none of his time with Joonyoung is fake, that there was love there after all. This is his closure.

“I see,” Donggu replied.

There are a few seconds of silence before Donggu finally continues.

“Goodbye Joonyoung.”

A pause.

“Goodbye Donggu.”

 

 

+++++++

 

 

His coworkers from his current set are very supportive. They believed in Donggu more than he expected. Donggu had braced himself to be judged since his friends got into a scandal, but they seemed supportive. He’s grateful for that.

After the shoot, there’s another call from other random numbers. He excused himself to a secluded area and pick up the call.

“This is Yoon Siyoon?”

Oh yeah, he changed his name to that. Though his close friends called him Donggu, it means this person is a genuine stranger.

“Yes?”

“This is Detective Kang Sangwook from the Police.”

“Who?”

“I’m the detective that interrogates you last week.”

A certain old man came to mind, though when he thinks about it again, he didn’t really look that old. His skin didn’t sag, it’s just his greying hair and stubbles.

“Oh, yes, detective what is it?”

“I need you back at the station, we need to confirm a few of Joonyoung’s alibis.”

Donggu sighed. Seems like it’ll be a bit longer before he could completely be done with Joonyoung.

“I see, when do you need me?”

“Tonight if possible.”

“I think I can, but I’ll have to go to my manager for the exact time, I’ll just contact you in this number right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

Donggu was about to hang up before the man talked again, “hey, it’s going to be over soon, hang on a bit longer okay?”

Donggu went speechless by the sudden encouragement. He really didn’t peg the detective as someone sentimental, especially towards Donggu, who was literally boyfriends with the criminal.

“I... uh, thanks?”

Then the man hangs up.

 

 

++++++++++++

 

 

He was the only one there at the police station, and this time, the detective is the only one interrogating him. Kang Sangwook was it? His face didn’t seem as cold as he remembered.

They went over the evidence, and Sangwook told him what Joonyoung had told him, Donggu confirms whether it’s true or not. There are things Joonyoung said to the detective that Donggu knew was fake, or different from what Joonyoung had told Donggu. It’s either he lied to the detective, or to Donggu.

He really didn’t want to think about Joonyoung anymore.

It was done after an hour and a half. The interrogation room feels stuffy and he can’t wait to just go out and takes in the fresh air. Before both of them even stood, Sangwook spoke.

“I didn’t see your manager out there.”

And it was also none of his business. Not that Donggu mind, he was surprised. That the seemingly stiff detective is making small talk.

“I send her home with the driver, she had a child at home and I don’t know how long you’re gonna interrogate me.”

They walk outside to the waiting area, the station is quiet. Only a few police officer on standby.

“I’ll drive you home.” The detective stated as he handed a woman officer behind a desk with a folder.

Donggu came to a halt. Did he just hear that right? If dating Joonyoung had taught him anything, that is not just a friendly gesture. But this is different, this man is different. This is a man. A guy. A detective ffs!

“You don’t have to, I can call a taxi.” Donggu wished it’s a good enough excuse.

“No, I’ll drive you, you’re a celebrity, going home alone from a police station doesn’t seem a good idea don’t you think?” dang that’s actually a reasonable reason, means that the detective isn’t actually advancing on him, but now he feels bad for burdening the detective. He should’ve called his driver back. This isn’t Sangwook’s job to guard him.

“Then I’ll call my driver, I’ll wait here for a while.” Donggu already on his phone, feeling bad already because his driver must’ve been home and resting already.

“I can take you home, it’s not a problem.” The detective looms over at Donggu, only now he realized that the detective is taller than him, also a bit bigger built. Donggu would want to know his work out regime, if only asking wouldn’t be awkward.

“You really don’t have to, please don’t feel obligated.”

“I’m not, I want to, just drop it and let’s go.” He coldly spat and turn away, “C’mon, follow me to the garage.” And the man walks away.

Donggu didn’t have a second to spare to hesitate and tailed right behind the detective. He’ll make sure to repay the detective some time for this, it’s just basic manners. They stopped by an old and dusty black car, medium in size, and Donggu let himself in beside the driver seat.

They took off, the detective didn’t ask for his address. Donggu figured maybe Sangwook already knew from his files? Donggu did remember putting his address there. The man just frowns with eyes on the road, it’s gonna be a long awkward ride.

“You look better,” Sangwook stated yet with another flat and expressionless tone. Maybe that’s just how he is, Donggu can’t really say he’s being rude since he did just compliment him on his looks? That’s... weird.

“Eh, really? I just wiped all my make up off.” Donggu felt flabbergasted. He must’ve looked messy. His hair is all over the place, and he did his best to comb it to place before he came. And don’t even let him start with his eyebags... thankfully they don’t sag, but they darken these past few days.

“That’s not what I meant.”

Every internal comment about Donggu’s appearance came to halt, and he eyed the older for what he really meant.

“Last time I met you, you had a panic attack, you were pale the entire time. But now you look calmer, sounds calmer on the phone too.”

Oh, that time... Yeah those were not fun times. Currently, he does feel better. Still not fun times when you still coming back to The station but he can handle himself better. He just needs to not think of it too much and move on.

“Yes, I do feel better, thank you for asking.”

“Can I call you Donggu?” as he meant was without honorifics. Though it’s okay, doesn’t really matter now, does it? They’ll never meet again, this is the last time, right?

“Sure.” Donggu agreed, manners and all.

“I can’t promise you this will be the last time I’m calling you to testify.”

Donggu sighed, cursing inside.

“Joonyoung keep--”

“Please stop.” Donggu whispered, and Sangwook didn’t make another sound, “I’ll testify as many times as you want, but I don’t want to hear about him anymore, I don’t care.”

The detective gave him a peculiar look before nodding, “all right.”

Donggu sighed in relief, grateful for the understanding. Though this detective is really odd now that Donggu realized. He had said that he knew about Donggu’s relationship with Joonyoung, yet didn’t bat an eye. He even went as far as temper with the evidence, to not out what he had with Joonyoung. Donggu felt relieved of course, still didn’t know why he would do that.

“Why did you delete my chats and pictures?” Donggu looks up to Sangwook, and got side glances from the detective, “You don’t have to, what happens to me is not your business, though I do feel grateful, but you’re doing a crime for someone you didn’t know, wait are you a fan?”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Sangwook groaned, yet Donggu finds it amusing. If it’s not because he was a fan, that maybe just naturally a soft-hearted bad boy type, isn’t that.... cute? Oh no.

“I did it because I understood.”

“What do you mean?” Donggu questioned.

“You know what I mean.”

It takes a few seconds for him to process Sangwook’s encrypted words, searching what it meant, that he understood? Understood Donggu’s... Oh.

“Ah... I see.” Donggu just nods, Sangwook think’s he’s gay too. When it’s not the case, is it? Joonyoung is the only guy he’s been, he still likes women. Does that mean Donggu’s gay? Even though Joonyoung is the only guy he’s ever fell in love with?

“I didn’t always swing that way,” Donggu finds himself talking, might as well talk about it, Sangwook would stop him if it bothers him, “I was skeptical at first, being with a guy for the first time, but I loved him, so much that I didn’t care about anything else. Things were good, until the scandal of course. I guess that’s why I was shocked, that I was being played like a fool, like I was the only one blindly in love.”

Donggu takes in a deep refreshing breath. His heart still as calm as ever, and he’s proud of himself that he’s able to talk about this without falling apart, and without fear of being shamed by the listener. It felt freeing.

“But he called me the other day, said he loved me too. Made me feel a bit relieved that what we had at least something genuine, something real.”

“Then what happened?” The detective didn’t sound too curious, asking just because.

“We said goodbye.”

Donggu sighed, feeling like the weight on his shoulders disintegrates into dust.

“Thank you for listening to my sappy confession, you could’ve stopped me you know.” Donggu teased, seems like Sangwook is immune to it.

“I don’t mind, you needed to talk about it, didn’t you? We can’t really talk about these things with anyone.”

Donggu nodded, agreeing.

“Though it’s admirable,” Sangwook continues.

“What could be admirable about this whole thing?” Donggu scoffed.

“That you’re able to step out of your comfort zone like that, not everyone can do that.”

“You didn’t think I’m stupid?”

“No, completely the opposite actually.”

“Really?” Donggu rolled his eyes playfully. “You shouldn’t though.” Donggu whispered under his breath, “I did nothing too grand, I just love someone. It’s not like I flaunt it either, we keep is so tightly secretive it was kinda suffocating. I’m not as brave as you’re making me look.”

“Maybe no, but brave all the same, I couldn’t do what you did when I was your age.”

“Wait, how old are you really?”

“I’m 6 years older than you.”

“Oh, so it’s recent?”

“Not really, it was almost 10 years ago.”

“Um, what happened? If you don’t mind telling me.” Hoping the question isn’t too intruding.

Sangwook’s expression softens, looking to the faraway road, “It’s a long story, but basically, I couldn’t do what you did. Confessing, because I’m afraid of a lot of things, I would lose so much if I did. But now I regret never taking a step, now he’s gone.”

The usually curt voice almost dosed in pain. Donggu wanted to know what happens, yet the heaviness laid there on Sangwook’s eyes made him shut his mouth. Maybe a story for another day, or maybe never at all. Somehow Donggu doesn’t want that to happen at all.

 “We always hide these types of relationship out of shame, prejudice and fear, doesn’t mean we can’t have them. Despite that, you still have them, that’s what's admirable.” Sangwook’s expression softens again as he glances at Donggu, who gawked at Sangwook.

“When you put it that way...”

Again, it made Donggu smiled and all warm. Today’s a good day, or rather, this conversation with the detective made his day. Guess it’ll be a little bit sad if this is the last time they’ll meet, or if they just meet at the police station. Donggu wondered if it’s allowed to befriend a detective when he’s still a witness. And when that’s done, they won’t meet anymore. It’s not wrong to want to befriend him, right?

“When everything’s done, I want to repay you. I’ll treat you chicken and beer, is that okay?” Donggu offered, feeling at ease.

“Sure, that would be nice,” Sangwook said without a beat of pause, and as if Donggu is hallucinating, he saw Sangwook smiled faintly.

He looked handsome when he smiled like that. Donggu didn’t know someone could look that handsome, definitely not the standard of Korean handsome, because Donggu is, and Sangwook is anything but, yet it made Donggu swoon anyway.

Wait what?

Oh no...

“This is your stop,” the car is no longer moving, and right on his left is his apartment complex.

“Oh, oh yeah, um, thank you for driving me here.”

The detective just nods, and before the silence gets too awkward, Donggu steps out of the car. He waits there for Sangwook to leave, but he didn’t.

The older seems to be clenching his steering wheel a bit too personally until Sangsook finally looks his way.

“I’ll be waiting for your call.” He said, before taking off.

Until the car drove away, Donggu couldn’t step away.

Oh, he’s swooning so hard. Again, he didn't feel too bad about it. He does look forward to meeting him.

Donggu almost hopped his way to his apartment, feeling all giddy inside.

He looks around his room, all messy with things crowding in places they shouldn’t have been. Joonyoung’s things. He had been postponing cleaning up, not knowing what to do with them.

With a lifted heart and newfound calmness, he started cleaning the living room.

It’s time for a new start.

 

 

+++++++++++